The draft policy was placed in public domain for inviting suggestions and comments. ONGC Ltd and Oil India Ltd would be allowed to prospect for shale gas in the first round. The two state-owned companies together hold 356 blocks of which 176 blocks are expected to hold shale resources.
Interestingly, contracts under pre- and post-NELP rounds did not envisage shale gas and shale oil as a hydrocarbon resource. Neither did the bidding parameters of technical competence and minimum work programme take this resource into account. This is significant as the government is working on the 10th bidding round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-X) bidding round and it is likely that it will incorporate E&P of shale gas and shale oil. A clear picture will, however, emerge after the policy is cleared.
The US Energy Information Administration has assessed India’s risked gas-in-place at 290 trillion cubic feet with technically recoverable resource of 96 tcf mainly in the four basins of Cambay, Cauvery onland, Krishna-Godavari onland and Damodar out of a total of 26 sedimentary basins in the country.
Another study by United States Geological Survey in three basins — Cambay, Cauvery onland and KG onland — out of the 26 basins estimates the technically recoverable reserves to be 6.1 tcf in those basins. These basins also have potential for shale oil.
Further studies are in progress to identify shale gas and shale oil areas in several Indian basins and sub-basins.
Apart from EIA the other companies and agencies that have estimated the shale gas resource potential in selected sedimentary basins and sub-basins in India are: Schlumberger – 300 to 2,100 tcf, ONGC – 114 tcf in three basins and Central Mine Planning and Design Institute – 45 tcf in six sub-basins.
In India, ONGC Ltd and GAIL (India) Ltd are in the forefront of shale gas exploration.
ONGC is undertaking a pilot project for shale gas exploration in Raniganj (West Bengal) and North Karanpura (Jharkhand). The Raniganj sub-basin is estimated to have gas-in-place of 48 tcf. ONGC is also exploring Cambay, KG, Cauvery and Vindhyan sedimentary basins for shale gas in alliance with US oil and gas major ConocoPhillips.
GAIL (India) Ltd, which is already participating in a shale gas asset in the Eagle Ford basin in Texas, USA, has signed two long-term agreements for import of a total 5.8 million tpa of LNG from USA. These pertain to the import of 3.5 million tpa of LNG with Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC, in Texas, and 2.3 million tpa liquefaction capacity in the Cove Point LNG liquefaction terminal project of Dominion Cove Point LNG in Maryland. These agreements may also include importing shale gas on freight-on-board basis from 2018-19.
Earlier this year, GAIL signed an MoU with EDF Trading for jointly pursuing North American upstream and LNG opportunities.
Petronet LNG Ltd is also exploring the possibility of importing LNG from Canada and USA.